More weight not more muscle

If you are a gym junkie maybe you are also in a race to build more muscle than your gym buddies. If that is the case you may have bought into the idea that the heavier weights you can lift, the better that will be for your muscle bulk. Now a new study has shown that you might have been punishing yourself unnecessarily or at least in the wrong way.

Conventional wisdom on the sweat drenched carpets that surround the gym water-cooler has been that to build muscle size you need to lift heavy weights. New research shows however that this mathematical approach to exercise might be off the mark as your biology is a little more complex than that.

We know that resistance training such as lifting weights causes the manufacture of muscle proteins which eventually leads to muscle growth. For the study researchers had subjects do leg extensions where they lifted weights at either 90 per cent of their best lift or at 30 per cent of their best lift until they reached fatigue and could lift no more. They then measured various types of muscle protein synthesis at four and 24 hours after the exercise.

When people lift at around 90 per cent of their capacity they can usually lift five to ten times before fatigue sets in. At 30 per cent the participants could lift at least 24 times before they felt fatigue.

While both groups had some increase in muscle protein synthesis, those who lifted the lighter weights but did more repetitions made more protein. Additionally, only those lifting lighter weights with more repetitions still has protein synthesis happening 24 hours after the session.

The researchers say that the key is lifting until you can’t lift anymore but the lighter weights actually seem to offer greater muscle growth. So you can ease off on the weight a little safe in the knowledge that when it comes to building muscle more weight is not more; more reps is more.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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